Ramón fights and wins in Grand Central

This is Ramón Peña. He’s from Puerto Rico, he’s got pipes — and he’s also one of the bravest subway performers we’ve met.

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I met Ramón in Grand Central between the 456 and shuttle, as he was being ejected. ‘Ejected’ is a funny word: in Ramón’s case, it means that two police officers were requesting him to immediately exit the subway system, with the alternative being arrest. Yes — because he was singing.

Ramón wasn’t having it. He got the police to specify further: they said a call had been made to them by the station agent, and that any responsibility for the ejection was with the MTA, not them.

Ramón took them at their word. Together with me and Yuri, a friend of his, he went out to the station booth. The station agent didn’t back up the cops: to the contrary, he said, Ramón was just making music, and that hurts no one. (I admire him, but he was adamant that his identity not be publicized).

He did, however, direct Ramón to his higher-up, the station supervisor. We waited.

The station supervisor eventually arrived, and began to run us through a list of excuses. Ramón isn’t in MUNY, he said, and wasn’t in the MUNY spot [neither of these things are legal requirements], and couldn’t he just move, and would we please turn off the camera.

We didn’t.

Ultimately, the station manager talked himself into a corner. He accepted that Ramón had the right to play, but insisted that the MTA required him to call the police over any complaint, even a wrongful one. (I asked whether he would use his discretion on any complaint — he said no — and whether he would call the police if a rider complained, quote, “that I was gay.” He said he would).

Still, he had agreed that Ramón was cleared by the rules. Ramón asked if there was any objection to his performing an encore, and there wasn’t. He reclaimed his spot, and this is what we heard:

Power changes everything, indeed, Ramón. Keep telling ’em, and keep ALL music alive beneath New York!

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Performer arrested at Metropolitan Avenue

BuskNY and the performing community were disturbed to learn of a new wrongful arrest. A longtime, well-loved performer was arrested early this morning at Metropolitan Avenue, a key station for Brooklyn performers. Fortunately, he was well-prepared: a copy of the rules of conduct was in play, and the full arrest was documented on video:

BuskNY is preparing a public response to this arrest. Please reach out if you would like to be updated. We thank this performer for standing up to the undocumented and ungrounded ejections that occur daily in New York City — and we believe, as always, that the end of wrongful ejection, ticketing, and arrest is in sight.

“SHOWTIME: Underground Arts” OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

BuskNY is pleased to announce that we are open for submissions for our upcoming exhibition. Please submit your work or share this information with any artists you know whose work is relevant to our theme!

SHOWTIME: Underground Arts”

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

BUSKNY ART SHOW at Armature Art Space

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BuskNY and Armature Art Space invite you to submit work for “SHOWTIME,” an exhibition of art made in and about the subway and public transit.

BuskNY is an arts advocacy organization that was created in 2013. Our mission is to generate broad awareness of the legality of artistic performance in the New York City subway, in order to end wrongful ejection, ticketing, and arrest of subway performers. While our primary focus is on musicians and performing artists, we also promote the creation, promotion, and sale of art by independent artists in the subway.

Through SHOWTIME, we will support visual artists whose work deals with or is made or sold in public transit and public space, with a particular focus on art made in the subway system itself. SHOWTIME will refocus the subway art dialogue on work made by independent artists, and publicly reemphasize that all New Yorkers can participate in the creative process.

Our partner, Armature Art Space, is a Bushwick gallery that showcases local artists using traditional media. Armature, which describes itself as “the support (or “armature”) on which artists can express themselves and around which artists may build community,” has graciously offered its gallery space free of charge.

The opening reception for SHOWTIME will feature refreshments and live performances by visual artists and prominent subway musicians.

Show dates: October 3-12
Opening: Friday, October 3 7-11 PM
Submission deadline: September 19
Work dropoff times: Minimum 3 days before opening
Work pickup times: Sunday, October 12 1-5 PM
Address: Armature Art Space, 316 Weirfield St, Brooklyn, NY

Submission information appears on the following page. We appreciate your interest, and will respond to all queries in a timely manner. Please feel free to forward this message to other artists, and to connect with us online at buskny.com or armatureartspace.org.

Milo Wissig

BuskNY Co-founder

milo@buskny.com


Submissions

Please send all submissions and inquiries to Milo Wissig, milo@buskny.com, with SHOWTIME SUBMISSION in the subject line. Please include an image of the piece[s] you would like to submit with the file name formatted as: Name_Title_HeightxWidthxDepth_Medium_Year.jpg.

The images should be 72 DPI JPEGs about 1000 pixels wide. Please include the following information:

Name

Title

Dimensions

Medium

Year

Retail price

If you choose to sell your work, you will receive 100% of the retail price. (Armature Art Space takes no commissions).You may submit up to six pieces for consideration; we will likely choose 1 to 3.

Open_Call_SHOWTIME (PDF)

6th Busker Ball


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Last Thursday was the 6th Busker Ball at Spike Hill, and BuskNY was there to give another report on the state of buskers’ rights in NYC.

Shiloh Levy gave a speech about the recent and planned further increases in enforcement of “quality of life crimes” (which results in increased enforcement of fictional laws as well.) Matthew asked me to check out Union Square a couple weeks ago and I went up and down every line; it was totally silent underground except for a single MUNY performer and a religious pamphlet table. Since then buskers have begun to return, but in smaller numbers, and I haven’t seen a churro vendor anywhere since.

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Meanwhile Kalan, whose recent arrest has prompted some pretty bizarre political commentary as well as the more straightforward news coverage, arranged his equipment and assorted beasts, and ended the presentation with puppetry and balloon music.

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In other news, last night I managed to make it down to open mic night at Goodbye Blue Monday for the first time since the place was saved from shutting down. In addition to coming out to the Busker Ball next time, I encourage everybody to check out GMB on a Tuesday night or whenever you can, and make sure the place doesn’t suddenly evaporate like Pearl Paint.

Fifth Busker Ball

Theo Eastwind suggested we sell the leftover “Music is Legal!” t-shirts at the 5th Busker Ball last Thursday at Spike Hill so I went to set up a merchandise table and took a lot of blurry shots of the show. We even got one of our shirts pinned up to the curtain with Blueberry Season pins.

photo taken by Shiloh Levy

photo by Shiloh Levy


It was a great show! I encourage anybody who missed it to come to the next Busker Ball on April 24th– and ask Theo about getting involved if you want to perform.


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BUSKERBALL 038Shiloh and Heth talking about BuskNY

Shiloh Levy gave a presentation about buskers’ rights explaining what BuskNY is all about, followed by Heth of Heth and Jed who discussed his recent legal victory. I gave the last ten or so shirts to Arthur and Shiloh to distribute, so now I have room for the 2014 shirts. We learned a lot about what people want in a shirt from the first run, so I’m planning on doing something a little more complicated, and with a more inclusive message. There may be another Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for materials and equipment. I’ll keep you updated!

Let’s make it a community!

Our first event happened on Monday night, and despite stormy weather, we had a great evening together at Armature Art Space:

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One thing we learned is how strongly we all feel the need to advocate for public performances. Many of us have made our own materials explaining what we do:

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We also recognized that New York — unlike many cities — already has many strong fans of subway performance. (They don’t always show it on their faces, but polls have repeatedly shown New Yorkers overwhelmingly supporting us, and even getting behind those controversial in-train performers!) This sure seems like the result of post-1985 legalization: if you let talented, dedicated, and generous performers do what they like for nearly 30 years, they can change the face of a city.

Nonetheless, we’d like to see New York even more visibly supportive of performers — and we’d particularly like to combat the widespread misunderstandings about subway music. Many folks support us despite thinking that we’re illicit — so let’s take a load of their backs and tell them that music is legal!

To spread the word, we’ll keep on wearing the shirts, and we’re also planning printable, crowd-sourced, customizable ads for performers’ cases. In the meantime, if you’d go out and start building community yourself — or if you’d like to make sure that the fellow musicians you see every day aren’t doing jail-time without you knowing it — you can print out your own set of BuskNY flyers designed by Kalan:

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Here’s the pdf, printable with four flyers to a page. Do you have an idea for a positive/powerful/funny/attention-grabbing/shareable poster? Share the thought with us!

 

Submit your photos to the “Music is Legal” t-shirt gallery

Almost immediately after we started giving them out, we began spotting our “Music is Legal!” t-shirts all over the city. Now that we’ve managed to distribute most of this summer’s supply, we’re creating a gallery of photos performers wearing the shirts.

If you have a photo of yourself you’d like to submit, you can send it to BuskNY@gmail.com and we’ll post it in our “Music is Legal!” gallery!

We only have a few photos so far, but it would be great to see more people showing support!


Meanwhile, I’ve been working on setting up my own silkscreen equipment, so I can make even better shirts, with a new design, next year.

Also, don’t forget that our “Music is Legal” event at Armature Art Space in Bushwick is this Monday night! We hope to see you there!